Is a teacher’s presence in classrooms necessary only to impart a syllabus-based curriculum to every new batch of students? Of course not. The 21st century teacher is an amalgamation of different roles, each one aimed at polishing not just a child’s education, but their skills, character, diction, knowledge, and overall personality development. Awareness has a new meaning in this new world.
In such a scenario, the teachers need to be more than educators, they need to be motivators. A shocking majority of students describe their schools and classes as “boring”. The repetitive format and creeping hours of cramming have caused a monotony to settle like a cloud over all students in general. But, isn’t boredom a natural side effect of daily life’s tedium, especially when it comes to studying? A 2014 study that followed 424 students at the University of Munich over the course of an academic year found a cycle in which boredom bore lower test results, which bore higher levels of boredom. This cycle can be never ending, with clear catastrophic side effects predominant in the child’s mental and educational growth.
What to do? Teachers must act as motivators for their students. Now, this doesn’t mean energising students through pep-talks and speeches, although that might work at times. There are certain small changes in teaching methodologies and classroom environments which can go a long way towards self-motivation within students to learn productively.
It shouldn’t be a “typical” class.
I can agree with the fact that a syllabus is necessary to give a rough guideline and uniformity to the education structure. But, it shouldn’t be made into a rigid touchstone. The balance of a motivated classroom depends equally on a teacher’s and the students’ interaction. In the current status quo, this balance is heavily tipped towards the teacher’s side, and students do not get to have a say in what they want to learn. As bizarre as it sounds, giving students the slight freedom and authority to direct their own learning can increase their interest and engagement exponentially. This gives them a different experience of being in control of their own learning, which in turn makes them feel responsible about doing it thoroughly and with interest. Students, especially in their teenage, do not need to be spoon-fed, they enjoy the idea of a little freedom in their own decisions. One way to go about it is to give them three or four options of “what we all can study today”. Their pick means their interest.
While solving problems, it is important to give credit to someone who might be putting forth a unique idea or solution. If a student comes up with a different method of doing things which pertains to the topics at hand, listening them out and having discussions in classes can do wonders in making a class lively.
Our system restricts more than it teaches in the true sense. Why must a student always submit the same burnt-out projects of essays and files and PPTs? Students need the wing space to spread their wings. Some might want to create a short film, some might want to prepare a model, some might even have comic strips to explain how they analyse certain concepts. The old methods of projects do not have room for expression, something which is extremely important when motivating students to use their own minds and creativity.
A typical classroom sees the same students and teachers every day. This is far from the real-world scenario. Providing students with an appropriate audience which challenges their skill to adapt to situations is a big motivating factor for them to do better. Ask them to voluntarily create YouTube videos about their learnings, organize competitions which expose them to new people and new ideas, even letting them pitch some ideas of their own or hold mini-conferences with students. This aura of constant learning and engagement breaks the everyday cycle of studying.
While there needs to be autonomy for students, that gives working room to teachers as well! Teachers can get as creative as they want, taking along their students. This will certainly break the routine of dullsville classrooms for both teachers and students. Learning is a two-way street, one which needs more traffic on the teachers’ lanes!